CAMPING & HIKING

Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad: Preparing for Your Next Adventure

Backpacking sleeping pads review
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Okay, you love the great outdoors and camping, and you just love to wake up in the morning with the fresh air around you. But, you don’t love to sleep on the cold, uncomfortable ground that simply doesn’t allow you to have a good night’s rest, no matter how comfortable your sleeping bag is, right? Have you considered checking out the best backpacking sleeping pad before heading out to your outdoor adventure?

So, next time you are getting ready to go to sleep in your tent, or maybe even under the stars, you need to make sure you have the best sleeping pad model. This way, you will get that well deserved good nights’ sleep, not feel cold, and be ready for the next day. But, how can you be sure that the sleeping pad you ordered is the perfect one for you? With so many models available on the market, making the right choice can be really hard.

Sleeping pad in tent

However, with our help, you will speed up the process and make sure that you are ending up with exactly the model you need. In this article, besides the best model reviews, we will also offer you an insight into the most important features that need to be considered before making the purchase. And, you will also have a choice of many related products that will make your sleeping pad even better. So, let’s begin!

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightSpecific FeaturesR-ValuePrice
Therm-a-Rest ProLite1.7 lb
4 sizes available, 2 colors available, self-inflating, lightweight, packs small2.4Check price on Amazon
Klymit Static V21.02 lb2 colors, easy inflation1.3Check price on Amazon
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol1 lb2 colors, 2 sizes, made in USA, packs small2.6Check price on Amazon
Sea to Summit Ultralight1 lbEasy inflation, ultra light, antimicrobial treatment0.7Check price on Amazon
Exped Syn Hyperlite0.95 lbGap free pairing, ultra lightweight, synthetic microfiber fill3.3Check price on Amazon
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite1 lb2 sizes, 2 colors, 3 season design, reduces heat loss3.2Check price on Amazon
Big Agnes Superlight Q-Core1.6 lbUltra lightweight, stuff sack included, keeps you centered4.5Check price on Amazon
Klymit Inertia X Frame0.57 lbPacks small, easy to inflate, includes air pump, lifetime warrantyNot applicable due to its unusual designCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

Sure, it may only be for sleeping on it, but it’s extremely important that your sleeping pad is ready to go when you are and that it’s going to combine all of the features you’re looking for. After all, you need something comfortable, that’s still going to be easy enough for you to take around with you.

Air Pads vs. Foam Pads

The vast majority of sleeping pads are either made from foam or use air-cell construction methods. There are a few differences to consider when selecting which option is best for you, but it’s going to come down to the overall weight and your preference for the most part.

Foam sleeping pad

Some people prefer foam pads because they like the form fitting aspect that foam tends to get, wrapping around your body. On the other hand, air mattresses and pads provide a little firmer surface.

Weight & Volume

Foam will be high on warmth and volume, and inflatables will reduce to a small pack size, and will generally be cooler than foam. If you are backpacking, you may want to tend towards pads that pack away easily. Whilst campers are less inclined to be concerned about volume, and are typically looking for comfort over everything else.

Because foam is heavier and is warmer you may want to avoid this if you’re going for a longer hike or if you’re going somewhere that’s too warm. On the other hand, if you’re going out in cooler weather or you’re out with a vehicle to carry your belongings an air pad may be a better option.

Thickness & Density

Thickness on its own is not the best measure of the suitability or quality of a sleeping pad, but it’s definitely something to consider. The density and thickness of foam is perhaps more important to avoid yourself ‘bottoming out’ on the ground but it’s not the favorite for everyone.

Backpacking pads

An air mattress is going to have a little less density but may actually be thicker than a foam mattress. It’s going to be up to you to decide which one is more comfortable for you. Some people don’t care for air mattresses as much because they’re not as supportive as a traditional mattress while others may not care for the added density of the foam.

Warmth

Any sleeping pad worth considering, will advertise its R value (thermal resistance level), and this generally falls somewhere between 1 and 5. R values of 1 – 3 are generally suited to 3 season conditions, 3 – 5 when conditions drop to freezing, and 5+ for very cold conditions.

You don’t want a sleeping pad that is rated too high if you’re going to be camping in warm conditions because it’s likely to keep you too warm and make you uncomfortable. Likewise, you don’t want something rated too low if you’re going to be out in the cold.

Dimensions

We tend to automatically assume we are looking for a sleeping pad which is about the same length and breadth of a single bed, perhaps, but this should not necessarily be the case if space and weight is at a premium, naturally for hikers more so than campers.

Packing sleeping pad

In the normal sleeping shape, we tend to produce two pressure points – the hips and the shoulders. For many these are the only areas that a pad is required to support, and so a full length pad may not be necessary. It’s up to you where you need the added support.

Construction & Maintenance

Typically, sleeping pads are manufactured from nylon rip-stop fabric, and the thickness directly affects the pad’s ability to withstand perforation, and temperature rating, to some extent. Other than foam mattresses, most are constructed through combining multiple air pockets or chambers, either laterally or vertically in the form of baffles.

This helps the pad to be more stable and durable, even if you’re sleeping on rough ground or even rocks. It also helps with longevity so you don’t have to keep replacing your sleeping pad all the time in order to get a good night’s sleep.

Best Products on Today’s Market

We’ve found a number of different sleeping pads that are going to provide you with some great features and comfort for the night. They’re all going to be slightly different so you shouldn’t have a problem getting just what you’re looking for in comfort and the ability to carry it around whenever you want.

Therm-a-Rest ProLite MattressTherm-a-Rest ProLite Mattress

Price: $60 – $176

Weight: 1.7 lb

Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 10 inches

Specific features: 4 sizes available, 2 colors available, self-inflating, lightweight, packs small, 2.4 R-value

Best use: Moderate to high temperatures, camping when ultra lightweight is not necessary

Description: The Therm-a-Rest ProLite Mattress comes in 2 different colors as well as 4 different sizes so you can make sure that you’re getting exactly what you want for your next hiking or camping trip. With these mattresses you’re getting something lightweight, that you can carry relatively easily. It’s also a mattress that will self-inflate, meaning you just use a few breaths and you’re ready to go.

The style of the mattress itself is diagonal cut foam that’s tapered to provide just the right look and fit under your sleeping bag. Those channels help to create more warmth overall and they help to keep the overall weight down on the mattress because they take away some of the added bulk. That’s part of what makes this mattress rated 2.4.

Great for no matter how you sleep, this mattress unfolds the same way every time, so that each time you want to use it you’ll be comfortable and perfectly supported. It looks thin when unrolled and filled, but you definitely won’t notice any rocks or rough terrain below you. On the other hand, when you want to fold it up you’ll easily be able to do so without problems because it compresses very small and fits into your bag with ease.

PROS:

  • Compresses small for easy packing
  • Stays inflated throughout the night
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Self-inflates or can be manually inflated as needed
  • Works well for taller users

CONS:

  • Can be a little thin on hard surfaces
  • Not ideal for side sleeping

Related: You will definitely want a pillow when it comes time to rest with this mattress and the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is a great option. It’s lightweight and packs small but still provides you with something comfortable to sleep on each night you’re in the wilderness.

Check the price on Amazon

Klymit Static V2 Inflatable Sleeping PadKlymit Static V2 Inflatable Sleeping Pad

Price: Approx. $60

Weight: 1.02 lb

Dimensions: 72 x 23 x 2.5 inches

Specific features: 2 colors, R-value 1.3, easy inflation, lightweight, anti-microbial

Best use: Moderate to high temperatures

Description: With its 1.3 R-value, the Klymit Static V2 Inflatable Sleeping Pad is rated for a little bit warmer temperatures, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be comfortable and warm when you head out for your next spring hiking or camping trip. This mat gives you 2 color options so you can get something you’re going to enjoy and it’s super easy to inflate when you’re ready to go.

There’s no reason that you should have to suffer through the night when there is definitely a way to make things better for yourself. This pad provides just the right amount of space and padding as well as comfort to fit directly underneath your sleeping bag.

This pad also folds up very small so you can easily carry it with you when you’re going on trips where weight is of the essence. With the V-chamber design there is very little air movement when you’re sleeping and that means you’re going to have just the right amount of heat retained in the mat without adding too much. You also won’t have any problem with air loss while you’re sleeping.

Whether you’re sleeping on the ground, a cot or anywhere else, you’re definitely not going to have any problems getting a comfortable night of sleep. You also won’t have to worry about how you’re going to carry this sleeping pad along with you, no matter where you want to go or how much space you have.

PROS:

  • 12% lighter than before
  • Easy to inflate
  • Lifetime warranty
  • R-value 1.3
  • Deep weld for added loft

CONS:

  • Air gauge takes time to learn
  • Fill tube is in the way while sleeping
  • Can start to leak

Related: The Trekology Ultralight Camp Pillow is great for those who are looking for comfort and support but don’t want to carry a full pillow with them. This one inflates when you’re ready for it and deflates to pack small when you don’t.

Check the price on Amazon

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress PadTherm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress Pad

Price: Approx. $40

Weight: 1 lb

Dimensions: 0.75 x 20 x 72 inches

Specific features: 2 colors, 2 sizes, made in USA, R-value 2.6, packs small

Best use: Moderate to high temperatures, non-lightweight camping

Description: Rated with 2.6 R-value, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress Pad is available in 2 different colors and 2 different sizes, plus it’s made in the USA. You’ll definitely have no problem getting a great experience with this because it’s going to provide you with just the right amount of protection and padding as well as heat retention.

The mat itself is made with indestructible bubbles that are closed cell and made with foam to provide even more protection. Because the system is made with different peaks and valleys, it’s actually designed to provide a more comfortable fit so you don’t have to worry about how to fold it down.

This sleeping mat comes in just the right size for just about any sleeping bag and it makes sure that you’ll be able to stay comfortable while you sleep. The lightweight material makes it easier to carry when you’re trying to cut down on size and keep your weight down.

With some great size options to make it comfortable for anyone and any size sleeping bag that you want. Your next night of sleep is definitely going to be a whole lot better when you have something soft to sleep on.

PROS:

  • Folds up accordion style
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Works well for longer trips
  • Moderate level R-value
  • Fits well in hammock or under sleeping bag

CONS:

  • A little expensive
  • Not an elegant design
  • Not ideal lying on the ground

Related: This Kelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag is going to fit great on this mattress pad so you’re protected from the cold ground and you’re still comfortable. It’s designed for cooler temperatures, but definitely works for moderate ones as well.

Check the price on Amazon

Sea to Summit Ultralight MatSea to Summit Ultralight Mat

Price: Approx. $100

Weight: 1 lb

Dimensions: 2 x 25 x 78 inches

Specific features: Easy inflation, ultra light, antimicrobial treatment, R-value 0.7

Best use: Moderate to high temperatures

Description: The Sea to Summit Ultralight Mat is designed for warmer weather camping, when you’re not really looking for a lot of heat retention. The R-value of 0.7 means that you’re going to have a whole lot cooler temperatures in the mattress itself rather than keeping a lot of heat in.

The air sprung cells are designed to give you more support and keep you raised off the ground, but still keep the heat levels down. The mat itself is low profile and features an integrated inflation and deflation system through the multi-function valve so you get just the right amount of pressure in your mat.

What is even more important is the extruded TPU lamination that takes place to keep out bacteria and make sure that nothing is going to start growing inside your mat. Available in four different sizes to perfectly compliment you as well as your sleeping bag, this mat comes with a nylon sack to carry it in, as well as a repair kit so you can take care of any problems fast.

PROS:

  • Super lightweight
  • Packs ultra small
  • Easy to roll for travel
  • Good quality for long term
  • Great for warmer weather

CONS:

  • Not meant for cool/cold weather
  • Can feel the ground through the pad
  • Can be noisy when moving around

Related: The Sea to Summit Jet Stream Pump Sack is inexpensive and helps you get your air mattress pumped up and ready to go a whole lot faster. In less than 1 minute you could be ready to get some sleep for yourself.

Check the price on Amazon

Exped Syn Mat Hyperlite Sleeping PadExped Syn Mat Hyperlite Sleeping Pad

Price: Approx. $150

Weight: 0.95 lb

Dimensions: 3.8  x 4  x 8.3 inches

Specific features: Gap free pairing, ultra lightweight, synthetic microfiber fill, R-value 3.3

Best use: Moderate to cool temperatures

Description: The Exped Syn Mat Hyperlite Sleeping Pad is available in three different size options with a fun, bright color to go along with it. This mat is rated to 3.3, which means that it works pretty well for moderate and even slightly cooler temperatures when you’re heading out into the wilderness and need some added protection.

The material on both the top and bottom is a 20D polyester with a TPU polyester film laminate that’s water resistant. That way, you don’t have to worry about moisture getting into your sleeping bag or up to you when you’re sleeping even on damp ground. Even more, the upper layer is honeycomb embossed, which provides even more cushion and comfort.

The Exped loft microfiber on the inside, is what really keeps you comfortable and warm, no matter where you’re sleeping or how. You don’t have to worry about damage to the mat while you move around or even while you’re traveling from one place to the next because that’s what it’s designed for.

The sides of the mat, keep you grounded towards the center to make sure that you’re in the most comfortable area and you can match up multiple mats together without having to worry about any kind of gap between them.

PROS:

  • Rated to 3.3 R-value
  • 7 cm thickness to add comfort
  • Good level of insulation for weight
  • Easy inflate process
  • Comfortable on back/front or sides

CONS:

  • Can be loud when moving
  • May leak slightly
  • Not as easy to get air out

Related: The Exped Schnozzel Pump Bag is definitely going to make it faster and easier for you to inflate your sleeping pad and get it ready for your night of sleep. You won’t have to worry about blowing it up yourself anymore.

Check the price on Amazon

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping PadTherm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

Price: Approx. $200

Weight: 1 lb

Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 12 inches

Specific features: 2 sizes, 2 colors, 3 season design, reduces heat loss, R-value 3.2

Best use: Moderate to cool temperatures

Description: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad is great for most seasons, making it great for just about anyone who wants to head out camping. It’s got a 3 season design that makes it less likely to lose heat while you’re sleeping. That means you shouldn’t have a problem even in moderate temperatures.

With an R-value rating of 3.2, it’s a great choice for those who like going out in the nice weather and might get caught out on a cool night. Available in 2 different colors as well as 2 different sizes to fit your personal preference and your sleeping bag, this pad is something you will definitely want to check out.

Comfortable and soft, with a baffled internal structure that helps keep you up off the ground, you’re definitely going to get a good night’s sleep with this pad. It has the reflective ThermaCapture technology, which is one of the ways that it keeps your body heat in while you sleep and it also uses a triangular core matrix to help with this.

Made small and ready to fold up even smaller for transportation, this mat is moderately priced and ready to go in no time at all. Just roll it up small and you’re ready to stick it in your bag and head out for that next hike or backpacking trip.

PROS:

  • Packs down small
  • Great R-value rating
  • Works well through 3 seasons
  • Very light and comfortable
  • Insulates well

CONS:

  • Can be somewhat noisy while sleeping
  • Slippery on sides
  • Not self-inflating

Related: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Mini Pump is designed to make pumping up your air mattress much easier, even when you don’t have access to electricity. It’s lightweight and super small but definitely gets you ready a whole lot faster.

Check the price on Amazon

Big Agnes – Superlight Q-Core Sleeping PadBig Agnes - Superlight Q-Core Sleeping Pad

Price: Approx. $100

Weight: 1.6 lb

Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 3 inches

Specific features: Ultra lightweight, R-value 4.5, stuff sack included, keeps you centered

Best use: Moderate to cold temperatures

Description: The Big Agnes Superlight Q-Core Sleeping Pad is one of the highest rated with an R-value of 4.5. This makes it great for cool to colder temperatures though it may retain a little too much heat to be good for warmer temperatures or camping out in the summer.

The stuff sack that’s included helps you get the mattress pad wound down really small so it’s super easy to pack and carry along with you even when you’re trying to keep your weight down. You’ll be able to stay centered in the mat as well because it’s designed with wider sides that keep you where you want to be so you don’t fall out.

Made with lightweight nylon that’s Ripstop on both the top and bottom, this mat has synthetic insulation that keeps bacteria and odor out while still keeping all that heat in. If you have any kind of problems you can simply pull out the included repair kit and you’re going to have no problem getting it ready to go again.

Two different size options make for some great choices when it comes to using this sleeping pad and you’ll be able to find what works out best for your way of sleeping and your sleeping bag that you’re using it with.

PROS:

  • 2 size options
  • Highest R-value rating
  • Thick and warm when sleeping
  • Comfortable for extended sleep
  • Quick to inflate

CONS:

  • Not a lot of extra padding
  • Can be a bit narrow
  • A little more expensive than others

Related: The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow is a premium pillow that looks great and feels even better when it’s time to hit the sack. It’s moderately priced and it flattens down entirely so you can blow it up when you need it and put it away when you don’t.

Check the price on Amazon

Klymit Inertia X Frame Backpacking PadKlymit Inertia X Frame Backpacking Pad

Price: Approx. $60

Weight: 0.57 lb

Dimensions: 72 x 18 x 1.5 inches

Specific features: Cutouts decrease weight, packs small, easy to inflate, includes an air pump, lifetime warranty, 3 colors

Best use: Higher temperatures, backpacking

Description: The Klymit Inertia X Frame Backpacking Pad has several cutouts throughout that help to decrease the overall weight and make sure that it’s even easier to pack down small. This mat is designed to keep you up and off the ground, but doesn’t provide a flat and complete surface to put your sleeping bag on.

You’re going to have plenty of comfort and you’ll be able to keep the weight down when it’s important for your next backpacking trip. It weighs less than 10 ounces because of the cutouts and comes in several colors that make it really fit what you’re looking for and what’s important to you.

The design, is body mapped, so it provides the right amount of support and padding in the most pressurized areas of the body and when you’re ready to inflate it you won’t have a problem doing so. Since there’s a small amount of area that’s actually inflated you can get it ready in just a few breaths.

Complete with an air pump so you still don’t have to inflate it yourself, this pad also has a lifetime warranty so you know that you’re getting something high quality that you can count on.

PROS:

  • Support in pressure point areas
  • Three season use
  • Easy and quick inflation
  • Included patch kit
  • Abrasion resistant

CONS:

  • Not ideal for taller users
  • The cutouts are awkward
  • Can lose some air

Related: The Klymit Pillow is small but it inflates quickly and easily, so you are ready whenever you want to be. This is a great pillow for those who really need to cut down on space when they’re traveling, but still need the comfort of their home.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

We have reached the end of our article. Hopefully, you now know on which features to focus, and that after reading our reviews, you found the sleeping pad model you were looking for.

Sleeping pads outdoor

Some good quality rest is going to be a great benefit to you when you head out into the wilderness, so make sure that you’re taking a little time to find your ideal sleeping pad. These ones should definitely provide you with what you’re looking for and they’ll give you a range of different prices and more to choose from.

Do you have other features that you consider when looking for a sleeping pad? Do you have one of these sleeping pads and love it? Do you have a different sleeping pad that you think should have been on this list? We want to know all about it. Thanks for reading!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Andrew Richardson

    It’s all in the name. The Sea to Summit Ultralight Mat pad is lightweight, comfortable and easy to inflate. Comes with stuff sack and repair kit. It’s NOT insulated, so useful only for warm weather treks.

  • Mark Foster

    This mat is just awesome to pack. If you have a lot of stuff in your backpack, then the Sea to Summit Ultralight Mat is your best choice. There’s even a 3M repair kit that comes with the package, so that’s added peace of mind for you. This is one guarantee that you won’t lie on a hard surface after a day of trekking.

  • Marcus Brown

    The Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm is the best thermal pad I’ve ever found. After struggling with the price tag, finally, I bought one! What I really like about it is it’s lightweight (weigh less than a pound I think) and it is also easy to inflate and deflate. There is a bit of a noise (I am not sure what should I call that) when you move about, it actually doesn’t bother me but maybe if there’s something I can do about it, then that would be really great, nevertheless, I will recommend it to anyone!

  • Mark Foster

    I’m not sure what you mean about the bit of noise when you move about. Maybe it’s the friction with your clothes? Nevertheless, the Thermarest Neo Air is one of the best backpacking sleeping pads around. Backpackers love how lightweight it is!

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